Deanna Cook already knew from a Facebook post that Wesley Little was on the run with a 15-year-old girl.
Then he showed up at the front door.
“He just came, kind of pushed his way in, basically, and said, ‘I need a place to stay tonight and I need to put my car in your garage,’” Cook’s mother, Vicki Baker, said.
The house belonged to Baker, who had moved to Montana that year for her retirement. She was in the midst of selling her McKinney home on Vista Verde Trail, which she had bought in 2007, and Cook was there to prepare the house for the sale.
Little, who had previously done some handiwork around the house, had been deemed an unwelcome face at the Baker home after he had made Baker’s two children uncomfortable. He hadn’t been seen by anyone in the family since May 2019 until that afternoon on July 25, 2020.
On that day, after Little made his way inside, Cook left the house on the pretense of going to the store but instead called her mother from a Walmart parking lot.
“We’ve got to call the police,” Cook said. Her mother agreed.
McKinney police met Cook in the parking lot, where she gave them the code to the front door and the garage door opener.
“‘I sold the home just a week ago,’” Baker recalled telling police over the phone. “‘Please, please don’t destroy my house, just get him out.’”
A confrontation on Vista Verde Trail became an hours-long standoff. Eventually, the young girl left the house unscathed, but she reported that Little had seven guns and plenty of ammunition. He also said he wouldn’t leave the house alive.
“There was no way he was going to come out peacefully,” Baker said.
Baker has read the police report and watched footage of what happened to her house on July 25. She describes the “pop-pop-pops” of the tear gas canisters that were thrown through windows, about 30 in total, a legal complaint alleges, and the bullhorn commands that police shouted at the man who wouldn’t leave her house.
One phrase in particular stays with Baker as she recalls the police report.
“The drone apparently went inside, and there was a comment that the drone picked up him laying on the master bed motionless,” she recalled. “Didn’t say ‘dead,’ they just said ‘drone picked him up motionless.’”
After that, police plowed through the back fence, knocked down the garage door and fired tear gas canisters. They found Little dead on the bed, having died by suicide.
“Somehow, (Cook) felt the destruction of my home was her fault because she had opened the door,” Baker said. “But she told me ‘All I could think about, mom, was getting that girl away from him. You don’t know how evil he is.’”
It wasn’t her fault, Baker assured, her daughter had done the right thing.
But someone still had to pick up the pieces, and that person was Baker. She called her insurance company, and she said a special agent told her that there was no coverage for the damage done by police. The company would cover blood cleanup from the suicide.
The city’s insurance company told her that the method was called “Shock and Awe,” an approach used to confuse the individual.
"But he was already dead," Baker responded.
“They have complete immunity to do what they think is best,” Baker said she was told.
In the meantime, the house had to be put back together. Floors had to be replaced in the wake of the tear gas use. Windows had to be replaced, vents had to be cleaned. Anything porous had to be thrown out.
“Painting was the hardest, because everything first had to be neutralized,” Baker said.
The person who had been buying the house backed out of the deal, a move Baker said she understands.
Baker has since sold the house, but to cover the costs, she turned to using credit cards, borrowing from her boss and taking out of her retirement. According to a legal complaint, the damages ran up to at least $50,000.
She has since filed a lawsuit against the city of McKinney with the support of the Virginia-based Institute for Justice. The lawsuit, dated March 3, says she seeks compensation for the damages.
However, Baker said it’s not about getting any money back. It’s about the fact that she’s not the only person who has experienced this type of situation.
“It’s not just a one-occurrence thing, and it’s not fair that innocent people should have to pay the cost of damage caused by a felon, fugitive or anyone,” Baker said.
Jeffrey Redfern, the lead attorney for the lawsuit, heard Baker’s story through news reports. The institute had handled a similar case in Colorado, he said, bringing the issue to their attention.
“We realized that there were lower courts kind of inventing a new exception to liability for cities in these cases that was contrary to existing Supreme Court precedent,” he said. “So we thought that we needed to find another case where we could represent that theory from the outset.”
That case was Baker’s.
In a statement, the city of McKinney said, “The city does not comment on litigation matters, and it will vigorously defend the actions of our officers.”
Redfern asserts that the case isn’t about wrongdoing on the part of police.
“This is just about who should bear the burden of doing something that is really in the public interest, taking dangerous criminals off the street, and we think that the constitution requires that burden be borne by the public and not by random unlucky individuals,” he said.
Baker said cities should have funds to take care of situations like the one she’s experiencing.
“I want this settled so it doesn’t happen to anybody else, because let me tell you, until it happens to you, you don’t know how devastating and how long it lasts.”